Israel’s Eurovision Contestant Booed and Jeered Amid Cheers, Videos Show

Israeli solo artist Eden Golan was booed and jeered loudly as well as cheered on Saturday during her performance of “Hurricane” at the Eurovision Song Contest grand final in Malmo, Sweden.

Numerous videos posted to X, formerly Twitter, from inside the arena showed a cascade of boos and chants of “Free Palestine” during and after Golan’s song as the Israeli military campaign in Gaza has also led to protests during the annual event.

In addition, media outlets reported from inside the arena that Golan also received scores of cheers and some fans waved the Israeli flag during the 20-year-old’s performance. The boos and pro-Palestinian chants could not be heard on the live broadcast.

Tensions have risen around the world after Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, led its deadliest attack on Israel in history on October 7, 2023. In response, Israel subsequently launched its heaviest airstrikes against Gaza. At least 1,200 Israelis were killed in the attack, while more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, per the Gaza Health Ministry, according to the Associated Press.

A video posted to X by The Times of Israel reporter Amy Spiro shows an emotional Golan surrounded by supporters after her grand final performance. The performer paraded with the Israeli flag as she took the stage.

Newsweek reached out to Eurovision via email for comment on Saturday evening.

Golan also received a host of support on social media on Saturday afternoon.

“After everything she has been through, this incredible 20-year-old angel is taking the stage in front of Europe, even as people are booing, reminding them we are not the Jews they think we are. We are strong & resilient,” Israeli author Hen Mazzig posted to X.

Golan also received a call from Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, who is Israeli, before her Eurovision grand final.

“You know I faced so many haters and my movies being boycotted in some countries who didn’t want the movies because of me. It doesn’t matter at all. The haters are the ones losing,” Gadot is heard telling her.

There was an ongoing campaign to bar Israel from the competition over its military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Before the contest, Israel agreed to change the name of Golan’s song from “October Rain” to “Hurricane” as Eurovision organizers felt the original title was a clear reference to Hamas’ attack on October 7, per Reuters.

The original lyrics included “There’s no air left to breathe,” which seemed to reference people forced to take shelter in cramped conditions during Hamas’ attack, and “They were all good children, each one of them,” potentially alluding to children killed in the attack, and also partygoers at the Supernova festival where Hamas killed 256 people.

The updated lyrics include: “Every day I’m losing my mind” and “I’m still broken from this hurricane.”

Golan continued to defend the song’s content.

“I think the message is clear,” she said in March. “It’s about a woman who is going through a personal crisis—a hurricane.”

Golan at Eurovision
Russian-Israeli singer Eden Golan representing Israel with the song “Hurricane” poses at the start of the final of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest 2024 on Saturday at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden. Golan was…

AFP/Getty Images

On Saturday, thousands of people protested in Malmo against Israel’s participation in the competition, which is viewed annually by 180 million people worldwide.

As reported by Reuters, a large crowd marched towards the contest venue, waving Palestinian flags and shouting “Eurovision united by genocide,” which is a play on the contest’s official slogan “United by music.”

Israel, meanwhile, has rejected the allegation that its actions in Gaza are genocidal.

Police estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 people joined Saturday’s demonstration.

More than 10,000 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered before Thursday’s semifinal in Sweden, according to Reuters. A smaller group of pro-Israeli supporters staged a peaceful demonstration on Thursday, defending Golan’s right to perform.

The protests don’t seem to have negatively affected Golan’s chances in the competition as Israel’s Eurovision 2024 odds were slashed from 50/1 to 3/1 after the semifinal. This has seen the country jump from eighth place to second favorite to win Saturday’s grand finale.

Popular bookmakers Ladbrokes and Paddy Power have Israel among the favorites to win the competition. The winner of the grand final is decided by a combination of a popular vote from viewers and the Eurovision jury.